A seedy bar or Chicago’s Fireside Bowl would be a more likely birth place for the rock band Dead Sara than sunny Los Angeles. With vehement vocals, guitars that are wielded like battle axes and a work ethic any Midwesterner would be proud of, it seems more apropos that the power duo of Emily Armstrong and Siouxsie Medley would have formed over bourbon on the rocks —not a cafeteria table in a California high school.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Emily Armstrong and Siouxsie Medley, just days before the official release of their self-titled album, Dead Sara, to talk touring, inspiration, and being Good Samaritans.
Jessica Kaminski: You have a new album coming out on April 10, how is Dead Sara different from your EP, The Airport Sessions?
Emily Armstrong: It’s a lot more live than raw… the sound that we really wanted mostly and this time it’s an actual band whereas before it was just Siouxsie and I and hired guns
What are you most excited about this album?
Siouxsie Medley: I’m just excited we have an album coming out. It’s our first record, it’s so exciting…
EA: [It’s] the way we want, the fact that it’s coming out!
You have commented before that you worked really hard to stay true to who you are as artists and as a band, what has been key to not compromising your integrity?
SM: We’ll have … band meetings all the time just to really make sure we’re all on the same page with what we want to do. Definitely having our own label [Pocket Kid Records] helps because we can decide what we want to do.
That’s an interesting place to be, having your own label and national distribution. How has the current state of the music industry allowed you to grow and break out as a band?
EA: Well things are different now, and I think that some labels, maybe bigger labels, have an old way of thinking. And they’re still figuring it out with this ever changing business. You’ve got to keep changing with the times.
Speaking of change, a lot has happed since your tour with Bush last fall, what has been your proudest moment so far?
EA: The Rolling Stones article and the fact that we have a record coming out is a huge thing for me in particular… just keeping busy is the most important thing for a band. It’s something that we look for, being very busy is very fortunate. Just that in general is the best.
SM: Jimmy Kimmel also, that’s huge.
What was your reaction when you got the news that you were booked for Jimmy Kimmel Live?
SM: We were all just like totally like what the f***. So excited. It was so crazy, that’s like such a big landmark.
EA: We were kind of like … we might get it, oh now we’re penciled in, so it was … a buildup. … Once he came out to a show and saw us, our show you know, and said yeah now its official and it’s like OK cool. You know for me there was … such a buildup.
Sounds like your live performance sealed the deal. Who have been the biggest influences to your live performance?
EA: There’s so many people, I mean there’s a lot of punk rock who are great performers, back in the 70s when it all started, the whole f*** you type of attitude on stage, they pretty much got away with doing whatever they wanted on stage. I think that’s so rad. Even earlier you’ve got your Iggy and the Stooges. They were such a wild time, I absolutely love that. It’s inspiring to me, being able to do that now.
SM: Totally, I also love Rage Against the Machine. As a band they all have so much energy. I always loved that.
If you could cut an album or song with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
EA: I feel bad to just name one.
SM: I’d love to play with Jack White, that’d be amazing.
EA: That’d be pretty sick.
SM: It’d be so rad. I’m a big fan of blues and he obviously is [too]. I mean he’s an amazing guitar player and an amazing songwriter. I just think it would be so much fun. I would love to learn something or just be able to have that experience of writing with him.
It is no surprise that Armstrong and Medley cite musical influences like Stevie Nicks, Rage Against the Machine, and 70’s era Punk Rock. They command the stage with raw energy and explosive performances that rely on solid musicianship, passion, and a potent dose of attitude. Dead Sara’s live performance and honest hard-rock sound is why they are a band to watch in 2012.